I work on the fields in the morning, for an hour or a half an hour depending on the time I have, then I come back home, bathe and wash myself; at 5am [my wife] gets up and starts to cook. I finish eating and at 7am, I take my cycle and leave. From there to the station it takes 15 mins; I go by bicycle, there is a garage there to keep the cycle – they take a monthly rent, ranging from 30 to 50-60Rs. Then I catch the train, come to Howrah, from there we take a bus to Park Street. At office, we work from morning 9-9.15 – we have to come in by 9.30am – and we can leave between 5-5.30pm. When there is a lot of work, we’d work up to 7.30-8pm and we get overtime, overtime of 4 hours; then we’d go back to Howrah, take a train, then the cycle and go home.
When you don’t do overtime, when do you leave from here?
If I leave office at 5pm, I will reach home at around 7.30pm – if I can get the train, bus and all easily. If they are late, if for example when I leave there is a big jam on the way to Howrah, in Burrabazar, then it gets late and I have to catch the next train. That’s why I get half an hour or one hour late sometimes.
So your trains are at one-hour intervals?
Yes one hour, from 5-6.30pm the trains are at half-hourly intervals. Later, there’s one hour interval.
And in the morning?
Then also, there is a train every half hour or 45 minutes.
At what time do you wake up?
I wake up by 5-530am, then I go to feed my cows, and then clean them. My wife usually does that but because she has to cook the tiffin I’ll take to office and she’s hence in a rush, I clean the cows. I cut some fodder for them to eat and then go to the field to work, after that I get my bath and food, and then leave: by about 7.10-7.15am, I am out of home. There’s one train at 7.30 and one at 7.45am. If I am late for the first train, I catch the second train.
Won’t you get late with that train?
Then I’d reach office by 9.30am. My entry time in office is between 9-9.15am, but I can go and tell them that I have missed a train; it will be excused for one day. See, I take the bus and sometimes that doesn’t come on time; in those cases, I have to take a ticket [a fee from the company] in the morning.
If there was no train, how long would it take to travel by bus?
By bus, around 2 hours and 15 minutes. The train reaches in around 1 hour, the Tarakeshwar train takes 1 hour 10 mins, it takes 10 minutes more on that train. Now it has become faster, there is a double line, earlier there was a single line. Here there was just one station. You would reach here only on the train that goes to Singur; now there’s a double connection. Today, we are taking the lower train. Otherwise we would have gone by this train, since they have changed work entry timings to 9am, I catch this train.
So you’re happy to take the train?
Yes, it is much better than the bus…
They are playing cards; there are two kinds of games.
Do you not play?
I play, but not on this train: these people are partners, they play together; I have been taking this train for one-two months only… When one plays the time passes fast, right? These people are also playing, they didn’t get a seat: they are standing and playing, so they don’t feel the discomfort of standing – if they just stood, they’d feel the discomfort. It’s like when there is conversation and talk, the time passes fast…
Is it hard to travel up and down every day?
Yes of course there is trouble here [in the city]. See, there is a better atmosphere in the village than here. Here in the hot season, when we reach the village in the evening, there is open air and a breeze; the area is cultivated with paddy and the entire stretch is green – there’s a great air blowing, unlike here where you only get it under a fan or in an AC room. In the village, even under a tree there is air and comfort, all the time there will be a natural air blowing, that is what I like very much.